EDU 627: The Instructional Designer vs the Project Manager… a 2-for-1 special?

Where do you fall in the project management vs instructional designer showdown? For most of us, we are a product of what I like to call…the most bang for your buck crew…you know, the 2-for-1 special at the store you always choose! You see, we, the 2-for-1 special people, wear many hats as a project manager and instructional designer. Lucky for us, however, there are connections that can be made between both project management and instructional design.

Project management supports instructional design in many ways. One of the first ways that project management supports instructional design is by using project management skills. Williams van Rooij (2010) writes:

Even when the roles of instructional designer and project manager are filled by the same individual, using project management processes enables the project manager to: (1) clearly define the project, develop realistic schedules and manage change; (2) choose those processes, levels of detail and methodology components appropriate to the specific project; (3) operate in an organised and efficient manner; and (4) have more time to devote to the management ‘soft’ skills, such as team building (p. 855).

Furthermore, Williams van Rooij (2010) references Layng (1997) by writing, “Layng sees project management as a tool to help instructional designers develop detailed outlines of instructional materials and learn a method of managing those outlines” (p. 856). This idea by Layng is a key idea connecting project management and instructional design because project management allows the instructional designer to be more organized and focused on the project or task at hand. In the instance that the instructional designer and project manager are the same person, this proves to be extremely beneficial.

Another way that project management and instructional design are similar can be seen through the implementation of a task/needs analysis. A task analysis, or needs analysis, is “a fundamental practice that is embedded within organizational change initiatives, and especially those involving human performance” (Post University, n.d., Slide 3). I compare the task analysis to a pre-test that I would give my students. The task or needs analysis is the step that analyzes the full program or project that has to be developed and is directly linked to instructional design due to its connection to Human Performance Technology (HPT). This crucial step in project management and instructional design can either make or break the entire project. In addition to the task/needs analysis, sequencing is also something that can either make or break the entire project. Sequencing is crucial to a successful project because if the sequencing is wrong and doesn’t make sense, the entire project is not going to make sense and will not be as organized as it should be. In relation to education, teachers need to successfully perform sequencing when planning and implementing their lessons so everything flows and makes sense to the students.

On the other hand, project management and instructional design can also differ. First and foremost, the most evident way that project management and instructional design differ is by the difference that project management includes a focus on not only designing the project or training, but also focuses on the budgeting of the project. I believe that the job of the project manager is more in depth as opposed to the job of an instructional designer.

My final project is a professional development for the middle school Family and Consumer Sciences teachers about how to incorporate technology into their lessons. Two of the primary tasks for this professional development are: research different media that can be incorporate into the FACS classroom and develop age appropriate lessons using technology such as PowToon to enhance and re-design PowerPoint presentations. One of the things that I need to make sure I remember is to keep a solid balance between project manager and instructional designer. The video below definitely is a great reminder of what NOT to do when being a project manager that will help me through building my project.

References

Post University. (n.d.). Managing instruction & technology. [Presentation slides]. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit3/index.htm

Williams van Rooij, S. (2010). Project management in instructional design: ADDIE is not enough. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41, 852-864.

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